19 Travel Trends for 2022 

The travel industry has taken significant damage in the past two years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Travel trends changed accordingly and will keep surprising us next year.

Travel restrictions, lockdowns, and the overall economic impact of the pandemic measures have resulted in a decrease in the global revenue from the travel and tourism industry by over 20 percent in 2020. 

In numbers, a potential loss in hotel business sales of around 925 billion USD in 2020 in the US tourism industry alone.

Use travel trends to update your strategies

However, we are not here to discourage you. Knowledge is power. You can find a way out of this scenario, even by turning the undesired conditions into advantages when you know how to react.

Understanding the different metrics involved and how the numbers have shifted for each metric may help you step out of this gray space and shine out with your business. 

  • What are the trends in the hospitality industry this year? 
  • What are the top destinations? 
  • How have business travel and leisure travel behaviors and preferences shifted? 
  • What is the share of digital marketing in all of this? 
  • And of course, what is the importance of tourism statistics for businesses?

We looked into the biggest travel trends and gathered the top 20 that bear significance for the industry. In this article, we will go over the findings and the main takeaways from each point. 

Hopefully, it can help shed light on the current status of the industry and how to boost your upcoming itineraries accordingly for the new year.

19 Travel Industry Trends to Know 

2021 was a year of gradual recovery from the initial shock of the pandemic. With various COVID-19 vaccines and better treatments becoming widespread, mortality rates were brought down and travel activities saw a relative increase when compared to last year. 

However, it was still not a usual year for the travel market, and there were certain shifts in travel trends. 

1. Vaccine matters for travelers

26% of travelers globally and 30% of US travelers say they will only travel to destinations that require visitors to be vaccinated before travel. (TripAdvisor)

Despite the controversy and different opinions around the COVID-19 vaccine, statistically speaking, the vaccine increases immunity against the virus and lowers the chances of being hospitalized or undergoing a deadly infection. This is why many governments and enterprises are implementing a vaccination requirement (or a recent negative PCR test result) to enter public and private premises. 

What to learn: This statistic from TripAdvisor’s recent survey suggests that the vaccine requirement instills a sense of trust in travelers. The precautions encourage them to prefer a destination or facility over others. 

Hoteliers can opt for similar measures, or at least a requirement to present a recent negative PCR test result in their facilities to show that they care about their visitors’ safety and well-being.

2. Update occupancy rates 

The cruise industry remains the worst-hit sector of the global travel and tourism market. In 2021, the global cruise revenues are set to reach only $6.6bn, or 76% less than in 2019. The hotel industry follows with a $132.3bn in revenue and 64% drop in two years. (TravelDailyNews)

In the past two years, the travel industry, specifically the cruise industry, has taken a great hit by the pandemic. Most people try and avoid crowded, closed spaces in their travels. This is why many travelers have preferred private rental services such as Airbnb. Road trips were also quite popular.

Or at least they have chosen facilities with a low occupancy rate where they can enjoy privacy in their hotel rooms and otherwise spend time doing outdoor activities safely. 

What to learn:  Offer them a comfort zone in your hotel in the coming year. It can help to announce your updated occupancy rates and ensure that they will have more privacy than usual. These updates can be announced on your social media channels and used for advertising.

Here, find a few ideas to maintain social distancing in a hotel.

3. Domestic travel is a trend

65% of leisure travelers did not travel internationally in 2020. (TripAdvisor)

Another travel trend in 2020 was a decline in international travel. Especially those who were traveling for leisure and not out of any necessity opted for domestic travels for their next trip, visiting close destinations that they hadn’t discovered before. 

Different numbers of public COVID cases, Omicron, hospital capacities, different public measures, and travel restrictions have made it difficult for travelers to visit other countries and choose destinations that can be reached by air travel. 

What to learn: If your hotel marketing strategies are not covering local travelers, you can consider updating your buyer persona. Addressing people from your own country may help you reach more potential guests under these conditions.

Maybe they are not traveling around the world, but people are still interested in leisure travel. 

4. Time for meta search advertising 

For millennials, OTAs are the preferred sites for booking (57%), followed by hotel sites (36%), and then airline sites (32%). (Expedia)

Oh, these darn millennials with their apps and social media. According to the respondents of this survey of Expedia on travel trends among millennials and baby boomers, the most preferred means of booking among the younger generation are OTAs (online travel agencies) such as hotels.com, booking.com, and TripAdvisor. 

What to learn: While this is good news for travel agents, it means that hoteliers need to put extra effort to encourage direct travel bookings from their websites. While updating your marketing strategies you can include meta search advertising and meta search optimization more.

If you are not familiar with meta search engines, take a look at our blog article.

5. Millenials are ready to travel

More than one-third of millennials save so they can travel, compared with just 10 percent of baby boomers. (Skift)

Speaking of demographic changes, the millennials are much more prone to saving money to splurge for travel in comparison to boomers, according to this finding presented. This dynamic younger generation gives great importance to new travel experiences and saves money for their travel expenditures. 

What to learn: Travel companies, hoteliers, tour operators, and other actors in the travel industry should pay more attention to this rising demographic group and their needs. 

Or, in the words of Sean O'Neill from Skift: "If you're a young travel company that wants to grow, riding the demographic rise of millennials can be the smartest path - with a fresh approach."

Learn how to use Instagram for hotel marketing as millennials like this platform.

6. Get ready for new scenarios

Analyzed by geography, the United States represents the largest travel and tourism industry globally, expected to grow by 32% YoY and reach $83.3bn value this year, $62.1bn less than in 2019. (TravelDailyNews)

According to US Travel Association, historically, international inbound travel has served as the country's number two export. Statista reveals that in 2019, the travel and tourism industry contributed over 1.1 trillion dollars to the country's GDP. 

With popular hot spots such as New York City, or the sunny states of California and Florida, travelers love to get a taste of the American dream. 

What to learn: The pandemic has taken a toll on even the leader of the travel industry. 2021 saw a relatively better, if not great, picture, and hopefully, the gradual recovery will help the travel industry bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. In this situation, for 2022, it can help to be ready for a real high season or learn how to act in case of another low occupancy season.

7. Be inviting for business travelers 

Business travel spending is set to reach two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels by 2022. (WTTC & McKinsey)

Globally, business travel accounts for a great proportion of travel expenditures for high-end hotel chains and airlines. Meetings, summits, conferences, and other types of events requiring domestic and international travel are common parts of work life. 

According to the joint research of the World Travel & Tourism Council and McKinsey & Company, worldwide business travel spending has risen by more than a quarter in 2021. It is expected to reach two-thirds of the pre-pandemic levels by 2022. Things are looking rosy for business travels in 2022 and beyond! 

What to learn: Service providers better be prepared for their suited guests. Another update in the strategies can be adding business travelers as a target audience. Create more content for them and outreach through various channels. Here are a few tips for you.

8. Offer well-being opportunities

76% of consumers agree they want to spend more on travel to improve their well-being. (Amex Trendex)

This recent survey of Amex Trendex suggests that mental and physical wellbeing is among consumers’ top priorities in planning their travels nowadays. Especially with a global public health crisis occupying our agenda for the past year and a half, it is no surprise that wellness is on the rise in the travel industry. New initiatives will be powerful to get attractive in the next year.

What to learn: What the service providers and hoteliers can do is seek ways to accommodate these demands in the market. Improving the existing services and facilities towards mental and physical wellness. 

For example, you can add elements of yoga and meditation to the range of activities offered in facilities.

9. Provide a relaxation getaway

Nearly half (46%) of U.S. travelers ranked relaxation as their top motivation for traveling with many seeking quieter, more private escapes in 2022. (HomeToGo)

Travelling is always a special experience and for most people, it’s an experience they don’t get to have very often. Balancing work life and domestic responsibilities, as well as social ties and the necessities they bring, creates a hectic daily schedule and result in a lot of everyday stress. 

Accordingly, many travelers, in turn, seek relaxation and peace in their travels—an escape from the noise and exhaustion of everyday life. 

What to learn: Offering quiet and relatively private options for guests can help you improve your competitiveness. You can also curate “relaxation getaway” packages seem to be trending solutions for this rising need.

10. Give space for uncertainty

77% of travelers said that flexible options will be important for their booking decisions in the next 12 months. (HomeToGo)

One of the indirect side effects of the coronavirus in our lives is the concept of uncertainty. So many large-scale events and plans have had to be canceled or postponed in the past two years, as the numbers of cases fluctuate, and as new variants call for new measures. 

This slippery situation about schedules and making long-term plans has resulted in many travelers preferring to book flexible options. 

What to learn: You can allow them to change the date range or at least offer free cancellation. Especially international visitors may need options while the borders keep opening and closing. 

11. Build trust

Business travelers (61%) and wealthier American travelers (57%) say if they trust a brand, they go out of their way to purchase from them. This is higher than the average among adult travelers (44%). (Morning Consult)

Brand trust is key to building a loyal customer base. Apparently, this is especially true for business travelers who frequently seek services from the travel industry, be it accommodation or transportation. 

This makes sense, considering business trips are usually very stressful and fast-paced. Customers would naturally opt for travel options that would make their job a tad easier and allow them to feel relaxed and safe. 

What to learn: Preparing custom-tailored packages, additional services, and perks for business travelers may be useful to build brand trust and loyalty. When it comes to customer satisfaction, the smallest personal touch can go a long way. 

You may make use of these tips to build trust.

12. Work on reviews

95% of consumers read reviews prior to booking. Leisure travelers read an average of 6-7 reviews before booking, whereas business travelers read an average of 5. (Tnooz)

Online reviews are one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about social proof in the travel industry for our next vacation. It’s like today’s “word of mouth”, but with a much larger reach and hence larger influence. 

What to learn: Customers also want to see social proof from actual customers that have experienced your services. This is especially true for leisure travelers for whom the travels are an “experience” in itself and not just the side perks of some work occasion.

13. Get social and communicate

82% of consumers trust a company more if they are involved with social media. (Forbes)

Speaking of social proof, it’s impossible to deny how important social media is for marketing today. This applies to nearly all industries, but maybe more so in service industries. Here is why: they require the businesses to maintain great relationships with the customers and put them at the center as much as possible. 

Social media allows companies to directly engage with the target audiences and even create a community around the brand on certain social media platforms. 

What to learn: You better keep up with the trends and demands of the customer base and adapt more quickly to their needs. As a result, you build stronger and lasting relationships with your current and potential customer base.

14. Be prepared for upcoming international travel

Europeans' intentions for outbound travel are now almost 90 percent of the pre-Corona level, while Americans' are around 70 percent and Asians' over 60 percent. (IPK International)

Europe and the US were among the places where the coronavirus spread most rapidly at the beginning of the pandemic around early 2020. But they were also as quick to respond to the pandemic with effective public health and safety measures. 

Last year, countries such as Mexico and Turkey got more tourists as a result of lack of restrictions. However, it may change. EU countries are now vaccinating the population under 12, which has resulted in an overall increase in public health and a decrease in anxiety regarding travel plans.

What to learn: Along with the vaccination and upon opening the borders, people started to feel eager to travel. After a long time, international tourist arrivals can be unexpectedly busy.

15. Go greener with simple steps

(As of 2021) 83% of travelers worldwide believe that sustainable tourism is important. (Statista)

According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) sustainable tourism “takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.” 

Climate change and environmental crises are urgent concerns for the majority of travelers today, and 83% want to make conscious travel choices as much as possible. 

What to learn: For the travel industry, this means undergoing a green transformation is not just for higher sales rates, but also for the planet! 

Here is how to manage sustainability in your hotel.

16. Improve your online presence

Over 70% of US travelers agree that they “always” use their smartphones when traveling, up from 41% in 2015. (Google/PhocusWright)

From the beginning to the end, mobile devices are now travelers’ loyal companions - and not just for making calls like they were initially meant for. This is not only valid for the planning and booking stages like one would guess, but also during the travel experience itself. 

From using the maps features to navigate to looking up local hotspots, restaurants, shopping areas, events, and things to do, travelers seem to rely increasingly more on their smartphones. 

What to learn: If you’re in the travel industry, especially the hospitality sector, your online presence and how you optimize it with the proper SEO and local SEO techniques can play an integral role in building brand awareness and reaching the right audience. You can start with improving your hotel photography.

17. Flash deals are a good idea

Searches for “last minute hotel deals” have grown globally by over 70% year over year. (Google Data)

If you know a couple of things about digital marketing and the travel industry, you know that Google’s insights and research reports are the places to look for the latest trends. 

The most recent travel trends report of Google revealed that “last minute hotel deals” were among the top search inquiries regarding travels, along with “last minute hotel deals London”, “last minute hotel deals near me”, and “secret last minute hotel deals”. 

What to learn: It makes sense, considering how volatile and unpredictable the global economy has been in recent years. People just want the best deal, and if they come across the right one, they are willing to bend their expectations around it. 

Especially around holiday seasons, it’s a good idea to plan flash deals and campaigns that your audience just cannot resist.

18. Care about cleaning even more

65% of US adults say they would stop purchasing from a travel brand if it did not follow safety precautions, 62% would stop purchasing if a company failed to regularly clean (Morning Consult)

Brand trust can make or break customer loyalty. It should, then, be part of your brand strategy to keep up with certain standards of service and customer communications at all times. Now that we’re in the thick of a global health crisis, safety and sanitation are among the main criteria that customers expect travel businesses to meet. 

In fact, according to this survey, for a significant number of US adults, a breach of safety precautions or lack of decent sanitation by travel companies can be a dealbreaker.

What to learn: Keep your hotel disinfected and let your potential guests know it. However, it would help to remember you also need to provide sustainable travel for your upcoming guests. Find a balance.

19. Start your hotel blog

70% of travelers say they will spend more time finding things to do at their travel destination in 2021. (TripAdvisor)

You can have a beautiful destination, even perfect hospitality services with top-notch customer service, but it seems that these alone are not enough to capture travelers’ hearts. Ever heard of the term “experiential travel”? 

It's a form of tourism where people like to be immersed in the place they're visiting, "experience" that place instead of being a mere spectator savoring the pretty landscapes. This approach to travel is apparently on the rise, as people have started to look for activities and local events peculiar to their intended travel destinations. 

What to learn: People expect brands to present them travel "experiences" that are organically blended into the locality, and not just a glamorous retreat isolated from the surroundings. 

It's time to start your hotel blog if you still haven't or to create even more content about your area. This will also help you be found on Google searches. 

The Future of the Travel Trends in 2022 and Beyond

The travel industry is slowly recovering after the economic downturn of 2020. During these times of transition, these statistics and trends in the travel & tourism world are guiding the hotels to find out the way. Travelers' expectations, travel spending, international tourism are changing shape. And it's important to adapt to the changing conditions to keep your business strong.